Itaú added as defendant in Chile's CorpBanca merger dispute

jueves 12 de junio de 2014 09:02 GYT

By Guillermo Parra-Bernal

SAO PAULO, June 12 (Reuters) - U.S. investment firm Cartica Management LLC said on Thursday it added Itaú Unibanco Holding SA as a defendant in its lawsuit to stop the Brazilian bank from winning control of Chilean bank CorpBanca SA.

Cartica alleged Itaú, CorpBanca and billionaire Alvaro Saieh, CorpBanca's controlling shareholder, violated U.S. anti-fraud and disclosure rules.

In a statement, Cartica said Saieh, Itaú and CorpBanca were "continuing to withhold material information, and failing to correct material misstatements," even after it sued, claiming multiple violations of U.S. securities laws.

Control of CorpBanca would not only give Itaú a foothold in retail banking in Chile, but provide a way to expand in Colombia, South America's fastest-growing economy last year. Itaú is contending with slowing economic growth in Brazil, where it trails state-run lender Banco do Brasil SA.

Cartica's move, a rare instance of investor activism in the region, aims to upset Latin America's largest banking combination since 2008. Cartica, which oversees about $2 billion in assets, owns about 3.2 percent of CorpBanca's common shares.

A spokeswoman for Itaú in São Paulo did not have an immediate comment.

The firm amended terms of its lawsuit, Cartica v. CorpBanca, Saieh, et al., filed in April, to include Itaú and its Chilean unit as defendants. The case is pending in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

The decision to add Itaú to the lawsuit was based on the "most recent material misstatements and omissions made by Saieh," Cartica said. "It has become clear to Cartica that Itaú is actively working with Saieh to close the transaction."   Continuación...